The relatives of three military cadets killed in a 2020 drone strike in Tripoli, Libya, have filed a lawsuit in a US court against Khalifa Haftar, blaming him for the attack that left 30 cadets dead and more than a dozen others wounded.
The Head of the Libyan American Alliance, Esam Omeish, a lead consultant on the lawsuit, said during a press conference held via Zoom on Thursday that this egregious crime happened in January of 2020 and caused the deaths of 26 students as well as permanent injury to about 18 of them, adding that it shook the world.
“The world has taken condemnation of it. But unfortunately, nobody was brought into justice. Nobody was held accountable for this crime.” He added.
The legal filing states that Haftar “intentionally directed, knew, or reasonably should have known that his targets were not legitimate military targets and that his forces engaged in a pattern and practice of gross human rights abuses”.
“The airstrike that killed them was launched under Haftar’s authority.” The text of the lawsuit says.
Just like the other legal battle by Libyan families against Haftar, the lawsuit filed on Thursday similarly uses the Torture Victim Prevention Act of 1991, a law that allows non-US citizens to seek compensation from individuals acting in an official capacity for any foreign nation.
Haftar denied responsibility for the strike, insisting the military college was marked as out of bounds for artillery and air forces.
However, a BBC investigation revealed that a Chinese-made Wing Loong II drone, supplied to Haftar’s forces by the United Arab Emirates, was responsible.
The lawsuit comes just a month after a US district judge issued a default judgment against Haftar, saying he was liable for war crimes after a years-long legal battle with multiple families who say the Libyan commander was responsible for the death and torture of their relatives.